Members of the world’s royal families, as well as presidents, prime ministers, and other public figures, enjoy many perks, not least travel to far-flung countries, fine dining at state banquets, and the knowledge that they don’t have to worry about paying the bills–at least until the next election or until they're deposed by a revolution!
Transport is another one of the perks of the job, with world leaders from the Queen of England to the King of Tonga traveling around in their pick of luxury cars–although in the case of King George Tupou V of Tonga, his personal choice when it came to vehicular transport was an old London black cab!
And it isn’t just transport of the four-wheeled variety that world leaders and royal families can enjoy when it comes to getting from A to B. When he (or she) needs to fly somewhere, the President of the United States has access to Air Force One, though Donald Trump may prefer to use his own rather more ostentatious private jet for trips to Mar-a-Lago…
The British Royal Family even used to have their own Royal Yacht, Britannia, which used to take royal dignitaries on foreign trips in the days before air travel, and which has now been retired to become a tourist attraction in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh. So, what cars do these world leaders dive? Here are 20 exotic cars they ride in.
20 Brazilian President- 1952 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith
Brazil is another country that's a fan of classic Rolls-Royce motors when it comes to the official state car. In their case, the Brazilian President is driven to ceremonial functions in a 1952 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith car. The Silver Wraith was originally one of two bought by President Getúlio Vargas in the 1950s. After his tragic suicide, while still in office, the two cars ended up in the possession of his family. Eventually, the Vargas family gave the cabriolet version back to the Brazilian government and kept the hardtop model for themselves! For day-to-day journeys, the Brazilian President uses a more environmentally friendly Ford Fusion Hybrid, and the government recently purchased a number of armored Ford Edge SUVs for use by the President and their security detail.
19 Italian President- Armored Maserati Quattroporte
The Italian President is another world leader who's made a patriotic choice when it comes to the state car, taking delivery of a custom-designed, armored Maserati Quattroporte in 2004, at the same time that another similar vehicle was handed over to the then-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. P
rior to the Maserati Quattroporte, the Italian President had used one of four Lancia Flaminia limousines for travel to official and state functions, and they remain part of the presidential fleet today.
The four cars were actually specially designed and built for Queen Elizabeth to use while she was on a state visit to Italy in 1961, and when the Maserati Quattroporte failed to start for its inaugural journey, the dependable Flaminias were there to step in.
18 Chinese President- Hongqi L5 Limousine
Until the 1960s, China had no domestic car-manufacturing industry with which to supply its leaders. Chairman Mao, for example, was driven around in a bullet-proof ZIS-115, which had been donated by Josef Stalin. When Honqqi began producing high-end motor vehicles, Chinese Presidents (who also use the title General Secretary of the Communist Party) and other leading politicians started to use homegrown limousines for official state business. Current President Xi Jinping uses a Hongqi L5 Limousine for his state functions, and he even took his car abroad for the first time on a state visit to New Zealand in 2014. Prior to this, Chinese leaders had been happy to use the cars provided for them by their hosts, but state visits are a great opportunity to promote the Chinese motor industry.
17 Russian President- Mercedes-Benz S 600 Guard Pullman
Traditionally, Soviet leaders always used to be driven around in a ZIL-41047, manufactured by the USSR’s state car manufacturer, but after the collapse of communism, Russian leaders embraced Western cars as much as they embraced Western ideologies.
Vladimir Putin, Russia’s current president, uses a Mercedes-Benz S 600 Guard Pullman, fitted with all kinds of defensive measures, though the Kremlin maintains a couple of older Zil models for use in celebrations and military parades.
For the next presidential state car, or Kortezh, Putin is going back to his Russian roots and has ordered a new vehicle from NAMI, the Russian Central Scientific Research Automobile and Automotive Engines Institute, due for delivery in 2020 and set to feature a new engine design currently in development at the Institute.
16 Saudi Prince- A Fleet Of Supercars
The Saudi Royal Family is infamous for its fast-spending young (and old) princes and cars made by Rolls-Royce and Bentley in the garages of the Saudi royals. One prince has taken this love of cars a step further than most, however, having commissioned a fleet of supercars, all covered in gold vinyl. Turki Bin Abdullah brought his golden cars to London in 2016, and residents of well-heeled Knightsbridge were shocked to see a custom Aventador, a six-wheeler Mercedes AMG off-roader, a Rolls Phantom Coupe, a Bentley Flying Spur, and a Lamborghini Huracan–all with the same striking gold color–parked on the street. While they may not be the official cars of the Saudi royal family, these ostentatious vehicles do seem to sum up Saudi taste in four-wheeled accessories.
15 Sultan Of Brunei- 1992 Rolls-Royce Phantom VI
Brunei, the tiny oil-rich enclave in northern Indonesia, is ruled by a sultan whose opulent tastes in all walks of life are well documented. The sultan alone is rumored to be worth $20 billion, and he certainly spends as though his money is burning a hole in his pocket.
When it comes to his official state car, only the best will do for the Sultan of Brunei, and he elects to be driven to official visits and state occasions in a 1992 Rolls-Royce Phantom VI.
Only available to very special clients at this time, the Sultan has his two Rolls-Royce Phantoms custom designed, asking for the trunk to be redesigned to better suit his needs. This is far from the Sultan’s only car. He's rumored to have an astonishing collection of thousands of different vehicles, all stored in a garage the size of ten football fields.
14 Queen Elizabeth II- Rolls-Royce Phantom VI
The Sultan is in good company with his choice of the Rolls-Royce Phantom VI as his official car, as it's also the official car of the British Royal Family and Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen doesn’t just have one official car, however. On some occasions, she and other members of the Royal Family are driven in one of two custom-built Bentleys, created especially for Her Majesty on the occasion of her Golden Jubilee in 2002, while the royal collection also includes an Aston Martin Volante, which she bought for Prince Charles as a 21st birthday present and the very first royal car, a Daimler Phaeton, dating from 1900. When visiting her estates at Sandringham and Balmoral, the Queen is often seen driving herself around in her trusty Land Rover.
13 Uruguayan President- 1987 Volkswagen Beetle
When Jose Mujica became President of Uruguay in 2010, he scrapped the concept of a state car, preferring instead to drive to official events in his own bright blue 1987 Volkswagen Beetle. Mujica saw this as a statement of his humble roots, and it became an iconic symbol of his down-to-earth presidency, especially given his unwavering support for Uruguay’s working classes. Ironically, when his presidency came to an end in 2015, he received many offers from people who wanted to buy his famous VW Beetle, including an alleged bid of $1 million from an Arab sheik. Naturally, the man who styled himself as “the poorest president in the world” didn’t hesitate to decline the very generous offer.
12 King Of Sweden- Stretched Volvo S80
The King of Sweden is one of many world leaders who make a patriotic choice when it comes to their state car. He's chosen a Stretched Volvo S80 as the official car for his attendance and participation in state events. Volvo is Sweden’s leading car manufacturer, reporting record sales around the globe in 2017. The royal collection does include some foreign-made vehicles, including a 1950 Daimler, which is the oldest in the collection, and a Cadillac Fleetwood from 1969 that was the official state car until the royal family decided to make the switch to Volvos in the 1980s. The Swedish royals have also made a commitment to switch to more environmentally friendly vehicles going forward, a trend which is being repeated by leaders around the world.
11 South Korean President- Stretched Hyundai Equus Limousines
In 2009, the President of South Korea took delivery of three stretched Hyundai Equus limousines to act as the official car for state functions. The cars had been customized to include defensive measures, including bulletproof glass and armored plating tough enough to withstand the blast created by 15 kilograms of explosives—practical as well as stylish. In 2013, Park Geun-hye became not only the first female president of the Republic of South Korea but also the first South Korean president to ride to his or her inauguration in a vehicle manufactured in South Korea–a great vote of confidence in the country’s developing car-manufacturing industry and a source of pride to ordinary South Koreans. Previous presidents had ridden to their inauguration in European-made cars.
10 King Of The Netherlands- Stretched Audi A8
The Dutch royal family are notorious for their down-to-earth ways, with King Willem-Alexander, his wife Maxima, and their children often photographed using bicycles to get around Amsterdam before Willem-Alexander became king in 2013 and he was obliged to use a more secure and more appropriate form of transport. In 2014, King Willem-Alexander decided that a Stretched Audi A8 would become the new state car for the royal family of the Netherlands for official visits and functions. The Audi A8 normally sells for around $400,000, but the model used by the Dutch King cost more because of the additional security measures and custom-design features that he wanted incorporated into the new official vehicle, including extra leg room for the King and Queen’s comfort.
9 French President- Citroen DS
The President of France is also encouraged to “buy local,” and when a new President is elected, he or she is allowed to choose from a selection of elite French cars, some of which include the Citroen DS5 Hybrid4, the Citroen C6, the Renault Vel Satis, and the Peugeot 607. Different Presidents have had different personal preferences, but perhaps the most iconic choice was the Citroen DS chosen by Charles de Gaulle, which saved him from two assassination attempts, thanks to the car’s ability to keep driving even when all its tires were punctured! Current President Emmanuel Macron has chosen the new DS7 Crossback, the first luxury SUV made by DS Automobiles and Renault Espace. He rode to and from his inauguration in a specially adapted model, which allowed him to wave to the assembled crowds from an open sunroof.
8 Prince Albert Of Monaco- Lexus LS 600h L Landaulet Hybrid Sedan
The Monegasque royal family are notorious for their decadent and lavish lifestyles. The late Prince Rainier, who was married to Hollywood star Grace Kelly, obviously appreciated the finer things in life, if his car collection is anything to go by. The collection is now housed in a museum in Monaco and features vintage motors alongside historic Formula 1 cars. His son and current monarch Prince Albert has slightly more practical tastes when it comes to cars, and he uses a one-of-a-kind Lexus LS 600h L Landaulet hybrid sedan as his official state car. Albert’s commitment to green vehicles goes way beyond the principality’s official car. His own collection of vehicles reads like an environmentalist’s dream and includes a BMW Hydrogen 7, a Toyota Prius, a Fisker Karma, Tesla Roadster, and a limited-production Venturi Fétish, the first sports car specifically designed to run on electricity.
7 Queen Margrethe Of Denmark- A Seven-Seater 1958 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith
The Danish royal family also boasts a collection of fine vintage cars, including Queen Margrethe’s state car, a seven-seater 1958 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith, which is referred to as Store Krone or "Big Crown" and which was bought by her father, Frederick IX of Denmark, as new. The rest of the royal fleet includes Krone 1, 2, and 5, which are all Daimler limousines with eight seats, and a Bentley Mulsanne, which was added to the collection in 2012. For more routine journeys, the queen prefers to use a hybrid Lexus LS 600h Limousine, while her son, Crown Prince Frederik, has driven a fully electric Tesla Model S for the last few years.
6 Malaysian King- A Stretched Red Bentley Arnage
The Malaysia head of state, known as Yang di-Pertuan Agong or "He Who Was Made Lord," is an office that was created in 1957, and the country is one of the few in the world who have a constitutional monarchy and an elected king.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong travels to official functions and state events in one of three cars: a stretched red Bentley Arnage, a blue Bentley Continental Flying Spur, or a black Maybach 62.
There's actually a law in place that states that the Malaysian Prime Minister and all government officials have to travel in Malaysian-made cars, with the most common make being Proton cars. The Prime Minister himself travels in a stretched Proton Perdana when on official government business.
5 German President- Mercedes-Benz S-600
For years, German presidents and chancellors have been driven in Mercedes-Benz S-Class vehicles. German leaders are lucky that they can support a German car manufacturer who just happens to make some of the most sought-after vehicles in the world! The current President uses a Mercedes-Benz S-600 and also has an Audi A8 in his fleet, while current Chancellor Angela Merkel is known to alternate between different German car manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, and even Volkswagen to show a more wide-ranging support for the German automotive industry. Some German leaders have made very geographical choices when it comes to their official cars, with politicians from Bavaria preferring Munich-based BMW over the more usual Mercedes-Benz models used by Berlin-based colleagues.
4 Emperor Of Japan- Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost
The current Japanese Emperor and Empress use a custom-built black Toyota Century Royal as their official car for state visits and imperial ceremonies and functions. This one-off design came at a cost of $500,000 and is longer and wider than normal, as well as features defensive measures to protect Emperor Akihito and his wife, Michiko Shōda, while they're on official business.
The Japanese Imperial car collection includes many of the vehicles used to transport previous emperors, including Daimlers, Cadillacs, a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, and a fleet of five 1935 Packard Eights used by Emperor Hirohito.
The Japanese Prime Minister also uses a Toyota Century for day-to-day business, though his official car is a Lexus LS 600h Limousine.
3 Pope Francis- Popemobile
The vehicle most associated with the leader of the Catholic Church is the “Popemobile”–a customized Mercedes-Benz with a seated compartment for the Pope surrounded by bullet-proof glass.
The current Pope prefers not to travel in glassed-off Popemobiles, and despite the security risk, he's traveled in different vehicles that are open to the public, allowing him greater contact with his flock.
While the Pope was given a $200,000 Lamborghini as a gift by the manufacturer, he decided to sell it off to raise money for charity, and he's more likely to be seen being driven around in modest Fiats or in the 1984 Renault 4, which was given to him as a gift by an Italian priest.
2 UK Prime Minister- Reinforced Jaguar XJ Sentinel
The Prime Ministerial Car is the vehicle used by the current UK prime minister. Since Margaret Thatcher became prime minister in the late 1970s, prime ministers have used cars from the Jaguar XJ Sentinel range, the cars having added defensive and security measures. Current Prime Minister Theresa May’s official car features a steel plate on the underside of the vehicle, reinforced bodywork, and bulletproof glass and can even release tear gas in the event that the car comes under attack. Former Prime Ministers are also entitled to an official car, usually another reinforced Jaguar XJ Sentinel, but some, such as former PM Tony Blair, prefer to choose their own model. Blair’s official car is a BMW 7 Series.
1 US President- Armored Cadillac, Nicknamed “The Beast”
Air Force One may be the most famous presidential form of transport, but there are plenty of occasions when the Commander in Chief needs to get around on four wheels instead. President Trump has elected to use an armored Cadillac, nicknamed “The Beast,” as his official Presidential vehicle, the same model used by President Obama. Previous Presidents have been groundbreakers when it comes to motor vehicles. William McKinley became the first President to ride in a motor car in 1901, while the Theodore Roosevelt White House owned a steam-powered motorcar that followed the president in his horse and carriage. William Howard Taft became the first President to have an official car when he sanctioned the purchase of four motor vehicles in 1911 and created garage space in the White House stables.